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Heartwarming true story One Life made it hard to hold back the tears at The Light Cinema in Wisbech

Film review: One LIfe (12A) – seen at The Light Cinema, Wisbech

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter and Lena Olin

Director: James Hawes Run time: One hour, 50 minutes

One Life (12A)
One Life (12A)

I’m a cinema sobber. It doesn’t take much for the waterworks to start and, for the second January, my first film viewing of the year left me fighting back the tears.

Last year, it was the tragic Whitney Houston biopic that broke me, and in 2024 it was the wonderful, true story of Sir Nicholas Winton – one of England’s most unassuming and, until now, unsung heroes.

The film cuts cleverly between the late 1930s and the present day of the late 1980s, when former stockbroker Nicky Winton is trying to find a use for a scrapbook he kept, detailing the work he and others carried out to save hundreds of children from the Nazis just before the outbreak of World War II.

During a visit to Prague, the young humanitarian, played by Johnny Flynn, came across thousands of refugees who had fled parts of Europe to Czechoslovakia to escape Hitler’s marauders. With the help of others, he made it his mission to help them escape to foster families in Britain before the Nazis occupied the country.

His wonderful work went largely unnoticed for decades until popular TV programme That’s Life uncovered his amazing efforts in the late Eighties.

Anthony Hopkins, now 86, is best known for his wonderful portrayals of Hannibal Lecter, but the Welsh actor is one of the most versatile ever and is wonderfully convincing as the shy, modest Nicky. Flynn plays the younger man wonderfully well too and your mind never questions that they are the same man at different life stages.

Helena Bonham Carter, now somehow 57 herself, is also brilliant as the young Nicky’s immigrant mother Babette.

The climax of the film, when the ageing Nicky finally gets the love and plaudits he deserves, is moving, emotional and would hopefully make even the staunchest jingoist stop and think.

Rating: 9/10

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